By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
After Newcastle's 0-0 draw at Maritimo and Bordeaux's 4-0 win over Club Brugge, Group D of the Europa League is already beginning to take shape and Alan Pardew believes United's next two continental fixtures will be crucial in deciding their destiny.
French outfit Bordeaux are next up for the Magpies as they come to the Sports Direct Arena on Thursday, 4th October then another home game follows on Thursday, 25th October when Belgian side Brugge arrive on Tyneside.
And with one point on the board already, Pardew accepts his team need to add a few more in those two matches in front of their supporters if they're to stand a good chance of progressing to the knock-out stages.
"I think they're important games because we've got no travelling, so it'll just be like a midweek game for us," he said.
"After Bordeaux's result against Brugge, it'll be everything on the line for Brugge probably in our game so I think that's a very important game in terms of the league and we need to win it.
"I'm well armed. We could still suffer a couple of injuries between now and that game - whose to say we're not going to lose any more players? I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that some are going to come back and we'll be stronger."
The likes of Fabricio Coloccini, Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Cheick Tiote and Ryan Taylor all missed out in Madeira through injury while Papiss Cisse was ill, Hatem Ben Arfa was suspended and Vurnon Anita flew home after his partner went into labour.
Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye, meanwhile, were rested with Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash against Norwich in mind with the likes of Dan Gosling, Gael Bigirimana, Gabriel Obertan and Romain Amalfitano given the chance to shine.
"I made a positive decision at the start of this tournament that I'm going to play those players and rest my big players for the Premier League games," the manager explained.
"If you think Dan Gosling could play a Premier League game after the mileage he covered tonight, you've got to be kidding me. He couldn't possibly do it so it is about hopefully having a few more options for Sunday as well as the players who have played so well tonight."
Click here to buy tickets for Newcastle's next Europa League fixture, at home to Bordeaux on Thursday, 4th October